News and information from the EMS Energy Institute.

  1. Demian Saffer Receives 2009 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award
  2. Panelists Discuss Future Energy Sources for Penn State
  3. Chinese Academy of Sciences Delegation Visits Energy Institute
  4. Dalian University of Technology and Penn State Discuss Joint Energy Research Center
  5. Contracts and Grants

Demian Saffer Receives 2009 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research



Demian Saffer, assistant professor, geosciences, recently received the 2009 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation. This award is presented annually to about 20 internationally renowned scientists and scholars. These scholars, from across all disciplines, are recognized for their outstanding accomplishments in research to date and their exceptional promise for the future.

In addition to receiving recognition, award recipients are invited to spend a period of up to one year cooperating on a long-term research project with specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany. Dr. Saffer’s collaboration will be with Dr. Achim Kopf at the University of Bremen. Dr. Saffer will be working closely with Dr. Kopf on several projects focused on the hydrologic and mechanical behavior of tectonic plate boundary fault systems. These fault systems give rise to many of the planet’s largest earthquakes. The projects will include the development of long-term borehole observatories to monitor processes associated with the earthquake cycle offshore Japan and experimental laboratory studies to measure rock properties within and surrounding the major fault systems.

The Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award is given to researchers who have completed their doctorates less than twelve years ago and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements that will have a significant influence on their discipline beyond their immediate field of work. The Federal Ministry for Education and Research funds the award.

Panelists Discuss Future Energy Sources for Penn State


Listeners got a quick lesson about what it takes to keep over 14 million square feet of dorms, offices and research labs warm when the two campus steam plants became the focus of a panel discussion Wednesday night. During the event, seven panelists presented information and fielded questions relating to Penn State’s current energy consumption and realistic options for future energy sources as Penn State works toward reducing emissions.

Audience members listen to panelists answer questions about Penn State's energy future Wednesday night.
audience Panelists from left to right: Paul Moser, Rose Monahan, Tom Richard, Jonathan Mathews, Steve Maruszewski, Christian Becker, and Lisa Brown.


Panelists included Christian Becker, assistant professor, Science Technology and Society, and Philosophy; Steve Maruszewski, deputy associate vice president, Office of Physical Plant; Jonathan Mathews, assistant professor, Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering; Rose Monahan, student representative for Penn State Beyond Coal; Paul Moser, superintendent, Steam Services; Lisa Brown, associate director, Center for Sustainability; and Tom Richard, director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment.

Rose Monahan speaks about coal during the Penn State's Energy Future discussion.
Rose Monahan

The west campus steam plant, which provides the primary steam supply to the University Park campus, is responsible for almost all of the University’s heat and a small portion of its electricity. The plant was built in 1929 and has four coal-fired boilers and one gas-fired boiler, each added in various years. The coal boilers can consume up to 358 tons of coal a day during peak usage.

This steam plant was basis for Monahan’s presentation. She spoke about the hazards related to coal, from mining processes to emissions. “Our reliance on coal is holding us back from moving to an environmentally secure future, ” Monahan said. She added that instead of putting money into necessary steam plant renovations, Penn State Beyond Coal would like to see the University spend the money on renewable sources such as wind and solar.

Panelists (from left to right) Tom Richard, Jonathan Mathews, Steve Maruszewski and Christian Becker.

Mathews said that renewable sources alone are not the answer. He stressed that Penn State needs to invest in a portfolio of energy sources, adding that there will be a future for coal since it is such an abundant resource in North America. Mathews also touched on Carbon Sequestration, a process that stores CO2 emissions from coal underground. This promising technology is currently being research at the University as a way to reduce emissions. “We have a changing definition of clean,” Mathews said, “and we need the opportunity to catch up.”

Some of the options that the Office of Physical Plant may look at including in its energy portfolio are natural gas, biomass, gasification, geothermal, wind, solar, and nuclear. Currently, research is taking place throughout the University in all of these areas. However, Moser noted, any future energy source must be reliable, sustainable (economically and environmentally) and expandable.

Paul Moser presents information.
Paul Moser

While opinions differed about how to reduce Penn State’s energy footprint, lowering emissions was a common goal. Maruszewski explained how the Office of Physical Plant employees have been working towards their goal of reducing emissions 17.5% by 2012. So far, Maruszewski said, the campus has reduced its emissions and consumption by 12% since 2004/2005, while the University added over one million square feet during that time.

The Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant, and the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment sponsored the panel discussion. Nancy Tuana, director of the Rock Ethics Institute, moderated the event.

Watch a recording of the event

Chinese Academy of Sciences Delegation Visits the EMS Energy Institute


On Friday October 9, a delegation from the Chinese Academy of Sciences visited the EMS Energy Institute as part of a trip to learn more about recent trends in the U.S. research and development system, and American science and technology policy. The group, which consisted of about 15 institute directors and deputy directors from some of the leading research organizations in China, came to Penn State, and specifically the EMS Energy Institute, to exchange ideas about the organization of research, productivity and performance, and the effective management of knowledge workers.

The group listens to a presentation from the EMS Energy Institute.
Bruce Miller Reading

Bruce Miller speaks to a group from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The group looks through materials from the EMS Energy Institute.

EI Newsletter Atendees

A member from the Chinese Academy of Sciences delegation reads the EMS Energy Institute Newsletter


Dalian University of Technology and Penn State Discuss Joint Energy Research Center


DUT delegation visiting laboratories at EMS Energy Institute.
DUT Delegation

DUT delegation at EMS Energy Institute on Oct 16, 2009. From left to right: Min Han, Shengchuan Zhao, Chunshan Song, Jinping Ou, Xinwen Guo, and Xiaoli Hui.

DUT Tour

On Friday October 16, 2009, a delegation from Dalian University of Technology (DUT), visited Penn State and the EMS Energy Institute to discuss the establishment of a Joint Energy Research Center.

During the visit, DUT and Penn State leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing to develop the Joint Energy Research Center. This mutually beneficial center would establish a formal collaboration between Penn State and DUT and expand on existing cooperative relationships between faculty at the two universities and the exchange of faculty and students.

The delegation from DUT included, Jinping Ou, president of DUT and professor; Shengchuan Zhao, director of the International Office and professor; Xinwen Guo, associate dean of the School of Chemical Engineering and professor; Min Han, associate director of the personnel department and professor; and Xiaoli Hui, associate dean of School of Software Engineering.

DUT delegates met with:

  • Penn State President Graham Spanier;
  • Eva Pell, senior vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School;
  • Alan Scaroni, associate dean for graduate education and research, College of Earth
    and Mineral Sciences and professor;
    DUT delegation visiting laboratories at EMS Energy Institute.
    DUT Tour
  • Renata Engel, associate dean for academic programs, College of Engineering, and professor;
  • Tom Richard, Director of Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment;
  • Janet Murphy, director of general administration and planning, University Office of Global Programs;
  • Yaw Yeboah, department head, Energy and Mineral Engineering and professor;
  • Chunshan Song, associate director of Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment and the director of EMS Energy Institute and professor; and
  • Denis Simon, professor from the School of International Affairs;
  • along with faculty members from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and
    the College of Engineering.
    DUT delegation at the EMS Energy Institute meeting with Penn State faculty members from the Colleges of Engineering and Earth and Mineral Sciences.
    DUT Meeting

Chunshan Song organized the visit as the result of discussions and ongoing collaborations between DUT and Penn State beginning in October 2008 under the guidance of Michael Adewumi, Vice Provost for Global Programs at Penn State. While here, the delegation visited laboratories at the EMS Energy Institute, and discussed potential collaboration topics and a future workshop on joint clean energy research with Penn State faculty members.

DUT is one of the top national universities in China with strengths in various engineering fields and business management. The university has strong research in energy and environmental areas and chemical engineering. Many DUT and PSU faculty members have had some collaborative research or scientific information exchange. For example, EMS Energy Institute faculty members Chunshan Song and Semih Eser have visited DUT and hosted many visitors and visiting scholars from the DUT School of Chemical Engineering. In addition, one of the members of DUT delegation, Xinwen Guo, previously worked at the EMS Energy Institute as a visiting scholar on catalytic hydrocarbon processing in 2001 and 2004.

Faculty members from the EMS Energy Institute and Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering who participated in the meeting with the DUT delegation included Caroline Clifford, Semih Eser, Xiaoliang Ma, Sarma Pisupati, Chunshan Song, Fuxia Sun, and Xiaoxing Wang. Several faculty members from the College of Engineering also participated in the meeting, including Bruce Logan and Paul Jovanis from Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Michael Janik from Department of Chemical Engineering.



The Energy Institute received over $130,000 in contracts and grants during the second quarter of the 2009-2010 fiscal year (October 2009 - December 2009).

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